Full Measure: Drugs coming across the border spark questions about security
WASHINGTON (SBG) – An aspect that’s been overshadowed in the conversation about immigration reform is all the drugs that come over the border.
One look and it's clear why securing the border is such a huge challenge. Protecting a 372-mile-long boundary shared with Mexico are 1,600 federal agents, and in Cochise County, Ariz., 88 deputies led by Sheriff Mark Dannels.
"There's been a big question here on the border: Who actually controls it? Is it the federal government or is it the cartels and transnational organizations?,” said Dannels in an interview with Full Measure. “"I have to say, it's a lot of cartels decide who comes across that border.”
Sheriff Dannels says for decades the feds have put the most effort and the biggest fences near official entry points, and that's driven the drug traffic to the less-protected countryside.
Full Measure took a helicopter ride to see the desolate terrain along Arizona’s border with Mexico, observing where the border fence is more of a marker than a barrier and where it abruptly disappears.
Drugs get into the country in ever more creative and surprising ways from Mexico, sparking concerns about border security.
Suspected cartel members have recorded themselves jacking up a section of border fence, scurrying underneath and close it like a garage door.
Others easily scale border fencing or just cut right through it.
Some even drive right over the fence using a portable ramp. In one case, a Jeep got stuck on top of a border fence and the suspected smugglers ran south.
And there's one more option: moving drugs under the border in secret tunnels.
Border patrol agents are now increasingly worried about drug cartel drones. In one four-day period last November, they spotted 13 drones suspected of carrying drugs across one section of the border.
Howard Buffett, son of multi-billionaire businessman Warren Buffett, owns two ranches near Mexico and has become an unlikely soldier in the border wars.
"The bottom line is that we do not have the drug traffic coming across our border under control,” the younger Buffett said in an interview with Full Measure.